GREENVILLE – Greenville’s Morgan Gilbert, the daughter of Misty and Travis Gilbert signed to play softball for the IUPUI (Indiana University Purdue University of Indianapolis) Lady Jaguars while continuing her education.
“The coaches seem pretty excited in what they have going on there,” Gilbert said of IUPUI. “They focus a lot on family and keeping the team together and strong.”
“They are growing and getting better,” continued Gilbert. “They have fairly new coaches that will be in their third or fourth year by the time I get there next year. They are just developing the program and growing it.”
“Gilby (Gilbert) will go to IUPUI and be tossed right into the mix very quickly,” said veteran Lady Wave softball coach Jerrod Newland. “Morgan plays shallow left field instead of short stop is my joke – the range and arm is amazing.”
“Morgan plays at a high level and covers half the field,” Newland added. “It’s tough to come in and play short stop every game in your career. She plays for the name on the front and has a goal with her fellow seniors is to get to Akron.”
Gilbert plans to pursue studies in engineering at Indiana’s fourth largest college with an enrollment in excess of 37,000 students that includes former United States Vice President Dan Quayle and current VP Mike Pence among their many notable alumni.
“I plan to major in engineering but I haven’t decided which kind yet,” Gilbert said of her choice of studies. “IUPUI offers a lot of options to explore, so that will be nice.”
Gilbert comes into her senior season as a two time All-Ohio player along with numerous honors and accolades.
“The Jags are getting a great kid and awesome family,” said Newland. “Gilbert is a four year letterman, All-League player and two time All-Ohioan here at Greenville. She has made numerous key plays and hits here in her career with more to come.”
In three years with a senior season still to go as the Lady Wave starting shortstop, Gilbert has amassed 135 runs scored, 133 hits, 34 doubles, 10 triples and 16 home runs while holding down the shortstop position with incredible fielding percentages of 0.966 in 2017, 0.928 in 2018 and 0.946 in 2019, her junior year.
“Gilby is on a pace to break some lofty career numbers here at GHS and is a part of the senior class with 80 wins (80-15) already and has won the past three district finals,” Newland said. “No. 5 (Gilbert) is a great kid and is part of an awesome family. I would like to thank them for everything and can’t wait till she is leading us in June.”
Playing shortstop for the Lady Wave and the Ohio Hawks travel team continually drew the attention of NCAA D-I coaches as the team crisscrossed the country putting their talents on display for college recruiters and coaches.
“They have been to multiple tournaments, especially this past fall,” Gilbert said of the IUPUI coaches. “The tournaments we go to are recruiting tournaments so they have been there already. A girl on my travel team is going there as well, so they were there to watch her a lot.”
The recruiting process now complete allows Gilbert to focus her attention on her final season playing for the Lady Wave program.
“It is stressful just because you never know who’s watching,” Gilbert noted. “And at tournaments, you just don’t know – you might make a play and it might catch somebody’s eye and you might not get noticed all weekend. It just depends on what happens and sometimes it’s a waiting game just to see what comes to you.”
The Lady Wave shortstop not only hits for power but often had her speed put to the test at the plate playing summer travel ball.
“During summer ball the coach lets me bunt a lot more so I am able to show a lot more of my speed,” said Gilbert, “but it just depends on the situation.”
The highly recruited Gilbert like any D-I recruit will have to earn an on-field positon along with playing time.
“I know at that level they will give you a chance to play anywhere, but it just depends what they already have,” Gilbert stated. “Obviously you have to earn your spot each year for everything, so it will depend what they think.”
Coach Jerrod Newland played a major role along with Gilbert’s natural ability in getting the Lady Wave All-Ohioan to the next level.
Coach Newland knows how to get the best out of you and he always pushes you to your limit,” Gilbert stated. “He obviously has a good program, a winning program and he knows what it means to work hard and actually enjoy the game. He always tells me that there’s not many players that can actually enjoy it and look like they enjoy it…so that is a big part of it.”
“I am proud of Morgan and how she has grown as a person, player and leader over the past few seasons,” said Newland. “She has worked hard and is a great role model for the young kids. Most superstars don’t load and unload the equipment van. I think they threw her mold away after she got here.”
With choices of D-I programs to sign with, the process came down to the final minutes as options were taken into consideration.
“I am excited just because my parents will be able to watch a lot more of the games,” Gilbert said of her late decision to play in Indiana over Tennessee. “We play a lot of the schools up north so they won’t have to travel as far to see my games.”
“My parents because they drive me to every tournament, they pay for it, they are always there to support me,” Gilbert said of those she wanted to thank. “Grandpa Gilbert is always at the games too.”
“I want to thank Coach Newland and all the high school coaches and a special thanks to my Ohio Hawks travel coach, Tara Wagner,” added Gilbert.
“Gilby has made many people proud and hats off an amazing family and support system,” Coach Newland concluded. “The little 9-year old that would carry on a conversation with the umpire, to a stud 18-year old – awesome student.”
Contact Darke County Media Sports Editor Gaylen Blosser at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-548-3330